Open Letter to a Future Daughter

Some people are born angry. They'll rage against everything in life with an inexplicable chip on their shoulder, daring anyone to look at them funny. Some people are not fighters. They are passive, preferring to let the world pass them by however it will, letting it shape itself around them, rather than doing the shaping for themselves. Still others are those somewhere in the middle, fighters at heart emotionally, passionate and strong in the face of adversity (even when they should back down). I fall into the latter category, but even so, there are some laws I won't break. Though I have a decided problem with authority that abuses its power and the unspoken laws of society, my own authority over myself is one I try to follow daily. It's not always easy being a woman in this world, and I've often thought that if I ever were to have a little girl, what would I tell her? What would I teach her? What wisdom could I possibly impart that I would hope she'd never disregard? And so, I write letters in my head, sometimes to myself; sometimes to my future children and I tell them everything I wish I had been told, even if I know there was no other way to learn it but on my own.

These are the laws I hope I never break.

Hello, honey,

I'm just wondering what kind of woman you want to be. If you want to be anything like those whom you emulate, who walk into a room and simultaneously light it up while a cloak of respect settles around their shoulders like a crown on a queen, there are some rules you should follow, both for yourself and the world around you. If you break these, that's okay--you have to break them to see which ones work for you. But try not to break them too often.

One, classy always trumps trashy. It does. Believe me, darling, it does. In this day and age, the internet permeates your world. There are far too many websites where far too many girls far too young take off their clothes and prance around in their bra and underwear for the benefit of men. They look carefree and happy in their pictures, and maybe a very few of them are, but don't let them fool you--they are trainwrecks waiting to happen, sure as the night follows day. It may seem hard now, because these girls always, in reality and online, will always get more attention. But it is shallow attention, surface attention. They are not the girls guys would ever take back to their mothers--they are the girls they sleep with and then brag to their friends about how easy she was. It is the classy girl that will earn their eventual respect, though they may not brag to their friends about how much they like you, at first. But that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them having insecurities of their own.

Two, speaking of sex, I realize you'll have it. There is nothing I can do to stop you. But I hope you'll always remember to be safe and smart about it and if you do start having sex, I'd rather you come to me so we can get you on some birth control than hiding it and ending up like Jamie Lynn Spears (I know you don't know who she is; thankfully her family inbred itself to death, but even so).

Three, LIVE LIFE. Passion is key. Honey, this rule is the most important of all. Don't take the conventional road simply because someone tells you it's what you should do. Even if it's me. Question everything, then let your heart forge its own way. Trust your instincts and your heart. They will sometimes lead you wrong (usually in relationships), but if you can learn something from your experiences, every time, you should never have a reason to regret. I don't know a regret in my life, and while I've made mistakes, I will always be glad I was a person who experienced all that I wanted rather than slowly dying while being chained behind a desk. If a corporate ladder is what you want to climb and the rat race is what you want to run your entire life, that's fine, too. But if you want to climb a mountain peak and race a lover to see who can fall in love fastest...if you're any daughter of mine, these will suit you better.

Four, speaking of love, you will get your heart broken. There is no way around it. But just remember, everything passes in time. Your pain is not the end-all, be-all of your life. It will not kill you--it will only temper you and make you more resilient. Even heartbreak, pain, anger, and loneliness. I know at the depths of your misery, when you just want to wallow and shut out the world, this will not be the first thought on your mind. But if you can view life through a telescopic lens and see the big picture, rather than the very limited lens of the here and now, you should be fine. It will instill you with an inner core of serenity that will help you safely through the rougher waters of life, not solely the turbulence in the aftermath of love.

Five, be kind. This is another important one. Your grandma taught me this. There is such a lack of compassion now in the world, if you pay attention to the news. It's all fear-mongering and atrocities. And perhaps it's true. Perhaps we are moving to a time in which it is easier to detach. The internet makes it far too easy to treat people on the other side of the screen as so many pixels, rather than living human beings. And there are some idiots in this world, believe me. But I hope you give everyone the benefit of the doubt, that you assume they are generally good, decent people when you meet them, and that if they prove to be otherwise, you shall first try to understand why they are how they are. And if that doesn't work, well then, stand up for yourself by all means--but always do it with tact, class, and kindness.

Six, read. Read often and learn much. And this one comes from your grandpa. Nothing is sexier to a worthy man than a woman with a brain who's not afraid to use it. I realize that at your age, being a "brain" rather than "hot" is hard to swallow. And guess what? Occasionally, that doubt will jump out at you when you're least expecting it--I still have my days when I think to myself, "Screw it. Maybe I SHOULD drop 5 pounds and be anorexic. Maybe I SHOULD get a nose job. Maybe I SHOULD be a mindless flirt, instead of a woman with a mind." But darling, any man worth your time will appreciate you for your mind and will be thrilled you've indulged it so. Your mind is the one thing that can never be taken from you by another. Cultivate it as you would a garden and I assure you it will return to you a hundredfold what you put into it.

Seven, love your family. Even if you sometimes are distant and communication gets scarce now and then, your family will always love you. It is the one thing you can always fall back on. To this day, it amazes me when I hear of others talk about how they are distant from their family, how they hate their family, how they barely talk. It makes me sad, because I think a large part of the inner core of serenity talked about a few rules ago stems from having a great bond with your family from childhood.

Eight, be silly. Never lose that child-like joy for the world. Trust me, life will sometimes be a slog, monotonous and gray. But if you can always find time for a spot of joy, hopefully you will never feel the homicidal urge to start lighting people on fire with your mind. Nor will you ever turn that grayness inward upon yourself. The child inside is necessary in times of stress and depression. Sometimes it's the only thing keeping you from taking every relationship you've built apart at the seams, just to watch it all burn. It's that child-like joy that keeps you sane. Even if it's to look at a tree waving in the wind, or to indulge in an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting, find time each day to do something you love. Eventually, hopefully you'll remember to carry that mindset into your adult relationships.

Nine, speaking of adult relationships. When you're finally in one, sometimes it will get boring after a while. I'm not going to lie to you, honey. Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, no matter how much you love them back, it just doesn't work and the relationship ends. Hopefully, yours will last. But even if it does, it's work. Always remember, affection is important. Women, we need it. We can not survive without it. It is our lifeblood in a relationship, along with communication, and if we're not getting one or both, it starts to whither and die for us. That being said, men need to be appreciated, too. Be affectionate. Don't stop giving him a kiss or a hug. Cook him something you know he'd like, just because. Surprise him with a gift here or there, even if it's just a text message, to let him know you've thought of him throughout the day. Ask how his day was, and LISTEN. You may not always get this in return, but if you can do these things, then you can say you're a good girlfriend, and a good woman.

Ten, be yourself. Even if it means disregarding every rule I've given you. Be yourself as much as you can be, and don't ever kowtow to the pressures of whatever the current "popular" group is, or what society tells you you should be. If it makes you uncomfortable, don't do it. If your instincts warn you away, don't do it. That being said, if you find there is something about yourself you truly do not like, something that offends or hurts other people, try your best to change it. We are eternally works in progress. We don't stop striving to be better, kinder, more learned, simply because we reach a certain age.

There are many more rules to follow, and more you'll add to your own list. But these should give you a headstart on life and will hopefully help you become the type of woman you want to be. I love you.

Love,

Me